A review of the consistency of breast cancer screening pamphlets produced by health authorities in Australia
Pamphlets are widely used by health authorities to inform the public about diseases, and it is essential that the information therein is accurate. This study reviewed the consistency of information on breast cancer screening in materials produced and distributed by Australian health authorities. The study found that there was a clear lack of consensus in terms of the stated lifetime risk of breast cancer; while most agreed that being a woman and increasing age were the major risk factors, there was far less agreement about other risk factors, and the specific representation of symptoms was one of the areas of greatest inconsistency. It appears that this lack of consensus is not unique to Australia, but exists in other countries. Material produced by health authorities is seen by the general public as "expert" opinion, and should be able to correct inaccurate perceptions generated by exposure to other sources. There is a need to develop and disseminate messages that provide women with an accurate understanding of breast cancer and breast cancer screening.